Thursday, 27 August 2009

Magic moments

Now and again in schools we all experience a magic moment. Earlier today I had one of these. The story begins at Lunchtime yesterday when I had lunch with a couple of S1 pupils who started with us last week. Both assured me that they were enjoying High School and were settling in well. I was further pleased to learned that one of the boys, John, described Maths as his favourite subject. Seizing the opportunity I suggested to him that I would give him a maths problem to solve and, should he provide me with a written solution the following day, that i would buy him lunch. I further added that he was not allowed to use a calculator!

At lunch time today, who was waiting for me but John. John, beaming from ear to ear with a smile as wide as the Forth, proudly presented me with an envelop addressed to me, and (diplomatically) demanded that I read his solution. This I did and, to my astonishment, he provided me with the correct answer and a neatly written solution to my maths problem. At the end of his solution he had persuaded a parent to add that he had solved the problem without a calculator, precisely as I had requested. In my 28 years of teaching, I have never had a pupil who solved this particular problem. What is really interesting is that the solution he presented is not one I've seen before. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next, but I feel sufficiently inspired to set up some kind of Maths problem solving club to find out how many other gifted mathematicians we have in our ranks!


olliebray said...

I hope that you boought him pudding as well then! Hope to see you soon. OB

Dave Parker said...

Donald - Hope you are fine.
Can you tease us with the problem?
You and Mr Russell may be interested that my daughter Jennifer is a NQT at Gilmerton Primary this year
Best wishes
Dave Parker

Dj Macdonald said...

Hi Dave - good to hear from you. I asked the lad to ad the numbers from 1 to 99. How would you solve this? Delighted to hear that Jennifer is pursuing career in teaching.


Dave Parker said...

As Gauss is supposed to have done many years ago
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +.....+97+98+99
Reverse the order
99+98 +97 +96 + + 3+ 2+ 1

add each pair vertically
= 100 times 99
=9900 which is twice what you originally wanted
Required total 9900/2
= 4950

All the best

Anonymous said...

good idea. Please make some of them ones they will possibly use in everyday adult life!

Dj Macdonald said...

The boy solved this in a different way - a solution I have not seen before.

I bought him a (well deserved) three course lunch!